In August, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata explicitly stated that a successor to the best-selling $249 Nintendo Wii won't "happen any time in the near future." However, given Sony's recent introduction of the $299 PlayStation 3 Slim and Microsoft's $199/$299 Arcade/Elite strategy, the Wii has lost its pricing advantage. Further, even if Nintendo makes good on the increasingly likely $50 Wii price cut, the system remains the least technically proficient of the bunch.
As such, many industry watchers believe that Iwata's "near future" could be a relative term. Speaking to the Financial Times over the weekend, Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada said that he expects Nintendo to release an update to the Wii by 2011; one that will bring the console's technical capabilities more in line with the Xbox 360 and PS3. Wada also stated that he believes Nintendo may possibly introduce a new controller along with the console update.
Wada's comments come as both Microsoft and Sony target the Wii's other primary draw: motion control. However, the Japanese executive is down on how each company's camera-based motion technology will impact the overall gaming industry.
"Present game machines already have a lot of functions: They are a network terminal, a Blu-ray or DVD player, and a gaming machine," Wada told the FT. "Compared to these three pillars, the [new motion] controllers are quite limited, so the impact may be small. They are an extension of the gaming function."
Wada was particularly upbeat about Microsoft's Project Natal, saying of the device that "as a user interface, it's fantastic, and I think it will become standard." However, he cautioned that its success hinges upon software support, noting that games that take advantage of motion controls are especially difficult to create.
Unveiled during this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Sony's EyeToy-complementing motion controller is slated for release during the spring of 2010. Also an E3 reveal, Microsoft's camera-based motion-sensing device has yet to be formally dated, though many industry watchers believe it will also see release in 2010.